MINNEAPOLIS -- Daunte Culpepper and the Minnesota Vikings needed a victory so badly they were willing to wait for it.
Showing uncharacteristic patience, Culpepper led the Vikings on an 11-play, 96-yard drive and rammed his way into the end zone with about a minute left to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-16 on Sunday.
The win kept Minnesota from dropping to 0-3 for the first time since 1967.
Culpepper completed a career-high 30 passes in 44 attempts for 322 yards. He also threw for a touchdown, along with two interceptions.
The Vikings' usual quick-strike offense instead took its time against Tampa Bay, which rarely gives up long gains.
"That's their forte," Minnesota wide receiver Cris Carter said. "They don't think you'll have enough patience.
"You don't want to talk about it, but we had to have this game."
Tampa Bay drove to the Minnesota 17 in the waning seconds, but Eric Kelly sealed the victory when he intercepted Brad Johnson's pass that glanced off Keyshawn Johnson's hands.
The Buccaneers had gone ahead earlier in the fourth quarter on a 6-yard touchdown run by Warrick Dunn. Tampa Bay (1-1) also got three field goals from Martin Gramatica.
Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp questioned earlier in the week whether the Vikings could play ball-control offense for an entire game.
Instead of going to Carter and Randy Moss, Culpepper found fullback Jim Kleinsasser eight times for 51 yards. Tight end Byron Chamberlain caught four passes for 88 yards.
"With the 11 dogs I hunt with, I thought we had them, no doubt about it," Sapp said. "It wasn't the deep ball. It was dink and dunk, dink and dunk. We had no answer for it. He just keep dumping and dumping. You know that's not their style."
Carter had a touchdown catch among his five receptions. Moss, still without a touchdown, had five receptions for 86 yards.
Brad Johnson was 20-for-34 for 224 yards against his old team and hasn't thrown a touchdown pass this season.
"They did a tremendous job of controlling the clock," he said. "They didn't quite make the big plays they're used to getting, but Daunte did a tremendous job."
The Vikings, last seen bickering on the sideline in a loss to Chicago, didn't do much screaming this time. After Chamberlain turned a pass tipped by two Tampa Bay defenders into a 37-yard gain, Culpepper ran up the middle and spun over the goal line for his 8-yard score with 1:03 left. The final drive took 5:18.
"We stuck together, and that's what championship teams are made of," Culpepper said.
Gary Anderson kicked a 29-yard field goal late in the third quarter to give Minnesota a 13-9 lead, which stood until Dunn's touchdown. Carter's 13-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter put the Vikings up 7-3.
Late in the first half, the Vikings drove 74 yards in 18 plays, settling for another Anderson field goal.
The Bucs, who signed Brad Johnson to a five-year, $28 million deal in the offseason, again struggled to finish off their drives.
Tampa Bay had first-and-goal at the 4 on its first possession, but a third-down pass to Keyshawn Johnson was incomplete at the goal line. The Bucs settled for a 25-yard field goal by Gramatica.
In the third quarter, Orlando Thomas batted Brad Johnson's throw on third-and-3 to force another Gramatica kick -- 49 yards -- that made it 10-9.
Another failed third down looked as if it would force another field goal early in the fourth quarter, but Minnesota's Kenny Wright was called for a taunting penalty to give the Bucs first-and-goal at the 6. Dunn scored with 12:40 left to put Tampa Bay ahead 16-13.
"We need to find ways to score touchdowns down there," Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy said. "It's tough to beat Minnesota with field goals."
Notes: On his TD run, Dunn reinjured the right toe he sprained earlier in the game. He will be re-evaluated Monday. ... These teams have split their season series every year since 1992. ... Chris Walsh became Minnesota's career leader in special teams tackles (121) on a jarring hit of Jacquez Green, who was fielding a punt. ... Vikings fans, attending their first game at the Metrodome since the terrorist attacks, had to wait in lines as long as several hundred people before entering the stadium because of heightened security. A choir from the University of Minnesota sang the national anthem as the band spelled out "U-S-A."
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